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I was visiting with a mid-sized company this week. I was brought in to help them sort out their content marketing strategy. In the discovery part of our conversation, they showed me some of their recent content work:
- A microsite that an agency set up for them last year. “It hasn’t had any attention for a couple of quarters,” they told me.
- A customer training blog. “John went rogue and put it up on WordPress earlier this year. We think it’s cool, but we haven’t done much with it.”
- An awesome video that Mary created a few months ago. “We put it up on YouTube. It didn’t get many views. We think it could be a whole series.”
I had a similar experience recently with another large company. The only difference was that they hadn’t published the content yet. Each team – from demand gen, to social, to brand, to content, to PR – had three or four separate content pieces scheduled to go out during the campaign. Each piece sounded wonderful on its own merits. Unfortunately, each piece would be developed by a different agency. The pieces had no thematic connection to each other; each would support a siloed goal.
That’s right – this company was actually planning for uncoordinated, disjointed content experiences.
As marketers, when we create campaigns, by definition we build something to launch. The launch is the goal. The rocket is built with just enough fuel to get it into orbit, run its course, then fade into the ether to be replaced with another rocket. That’s campaign-thinking – and there’s nothing wrong with it in the right context.
But here’s what don’t we ask when we create a campaign: “What happens next?”
Transferring campaign thinking to content development, we can see why the half-life of most deliverables – white papers, webinars, infographics, YouTube videos – is so short. We launch them as assets in a campaign. When ensuing campaigns push older assets below the fold (literally or metaphorically), we forget about them – and so does our audience.
Content development should be different. Content deliverables have more value when created as long-term strategic assets – products. Each product fits into a product line that has a coordinated life cycle. Whether we are developing one asset (a white paper, video, etc.) or an entire “story space,” as I described in a previous post, we should develop a connected, consistent narrative that hangs together and builds a coherent content-driven experience.
We must ask “What’s next?” in the planning stages. Let’s look back at those three items I listed in the beginning. To create them as true (long-term) assets, the company needed to address – during their planning – questions like this:
- If this microsite is successful, who will keep it going? What will its goal be?
- Who’s going to consistently develop the customer training blog once it launches?
- If we turn this video into a series, what do episodes two, three, four, and so on look like, and how does each episode connect to a larger narrative?
In other words, how will all these content-driven experiences connect in a holistic, sustainable way?
Let’s not just plan for the launch – let’s plan for the successful journey. Let’s not only think about how the show opens, let’s think about how it keeps audiences leaning forward all the way through – and keeps them coming back for more.
We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown
were exclusively our own,
All our own. All our own.
Come and see the show!
Content is a show that never ends.
This post originally appeared as a Robert Rose Linkedin post.
Robert is chief strategy officer for the Content Marketing Institute and a senior contributing consultant for Digital Clarity Group. His first book, coauthored with Joe Pulizzi, Managing Content Marketing, is widely considered the “owner’s manual” for the content marketing process. It’s been translated into multiple languages and spent several weeks as a top 10 marketing book on Amazon.com since its debut in 2011. Robert is also co-host of the podcast PNR’s This Old Marketing, the #1 podcast as reviewed by MarketingPodcasts.com. He recently release, with co-author Carla Johnson, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing.